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Lawn & Garden

Types of Hydrangeas

Having been a horticulturalist for almost 20 years now, I have met thousands of people that share the same love for plants that I do. There are unique categories of plants that create groups of enthusiasts, which create organizations like the rose society or hydrangea societies. These people know more about their plants than I might ever know. I am more of a lover of all plants and have a good understanding of a large variety of them.


Lets get a more broad understanding of the different types of hydrangeas. These plants have got their fanatics due to their unique blooming behaviors and the tenacity in which they bloom.


Hydrangea macrophylla, Bigleaf Hydrangea

This plant is known for its large, herbaceous, heart shaped leaves which has heavily serrated edges. This plant however, is most known for its ability to change bloom color based on the soil pH in which it is growing. You will see this plant presenting a pink, blue or purple color most of the time. Blue hydrangeas grow in an acidic soil, pink in a neutral or alkaline soil and purple, somewhere in the middle. Occasionally you will find a macrophylla in white.

Growing up as a kid, rose bushes got so much attention by growers that hundreds of hybrid varieties were created, flooding markets and overwhelming everyone. Today hydrangeas are becoming that plant.

Many people have trouble getting this plant to bloom due to one simple mistake. This plant blooms on old growth, therefore when it loses its leaves in winter, do not cut it down or it will not bloom the following year. Pruning this plant is to be done immediately after it blooms. Endless Summer hydrangea is the exception to this rule, as it blooms on old and new growth.There are other reasons why hydrangeas fail to bloom.

Hydrangea arborescens, Annabelle hydrangea

Annabelle is less tolerant of drought and prefers partial shade. Unlike most Bigleaf hydrangeas, arborescens will bloom off new growth, therefore you can prune it in the fall or spring. In consistently moist areas, arborescens can tolerate full sun.


It grows more erratically, often on slopes or creek banks. Flower heads can get as large as 6 to 12 inches across. It blooms all summer and into the fall. Also called wild hydrangea, arborescens grows more loosely and leggy. Leaves are not as herbaceous as those of macrophylla and blooms are always white and not changed by soil pH.

Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea tolerates dryer soil far better than other hydrangeas. It tolerates a good deal of shade as well. You can get this plant as a single or double bloomer and in dwarf varieties as well. Like most other hydrangeas, Oakleaf blooms off of old growth, therefore pruning must be done immediately after blooming. Oakleaf hydrangeas are typically white, some having a pinkish hue. Some Oakleaf hydrangeas can get cone shaped plumes of flowers 15 inches long. You can find this plant in an article titled 11 Shade Loving Shrubs.

Hydrangea paniculata, Panicle hydrangea

Forever, I have known hydrangea paniculata as the PeeGee hydrangea which was more of a tree-like hydrangea. The demand for this plant was low until a new cultivar came onto the scene. Limelight hydrangea came onto the scene with unique white flowers that turn to an incredible chartreuse lime color, then to a pink-rose color.

Limelight works well in urban settings and tolerates poor air quality well. This hydrangea will also grow further North than most other hydrangeas and it tolerates full sun better than most. Unlike many hydrangeas, it blooms on current year’s growth so prune as needed. It also gets loaded with massive blooms and is a major award winning plant and is a must in any landscape. It’s a great plant for cut flower arrangements as well. Prune from December to February.

Hydrangea petiolaris anomala, Climbing hydrangea

This beautiful plant can act as a climber if given something to grow on or a groundcover if there is nothing. Aerial rootlets along the stem, allow this plant to climb and attach to even the smoothest of surfaces. This native to the Himalayas and China, has beautiful woody bark and clusters of creamy white flowers. When growing as a groundcover this plant can cover up to 200 square feet. Considered by me to be one of the best outdoor vines for a landscape.

Other Related Articles:

Why Your Hydrangeas Aren't Blooming

Bloomstruck Hydrangeas

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Posted 2015-12-20T18:26:45+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL